David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books, Volume 3 — Rejections, Religion


• Marjane Satrapi, the author of the graphic memoir Persepolis, which became an Oscar-nominated animated film, has sold over a million copies of that book, but even she had to deal with rejection. Early in her career, before creating Persepolis, she showed a graphic manuscript to a French publishing company’s art director who rejected it because “you don’t have any style — it goes in all different directions.” Ms. Satrapi says, “I came home depressed and cried for a whole week.” But a couple of years after the successful Persepolis was published and had won awards, she was invited to show this same art director a manuscript, so she showed him the same manuscript that he had earlier rejected. This time he said, “What courage! You have tried all these different styles!” Ms. Satrapi explains what happened: “I said that’s not what you told me three years ago. And he said, ‘Did I see you three years ago?’ And I said, ‘You don’t have a very good memory, but I do.’ We ended up working together. I’m not a revenger kind of person.”

• Madeleine L’Engle Camp wrote many books from 1950 to 1959; unfortunately, only one of her books was published. When she turned 40, she received yet another rejection letter, and she cried and resolved never again to write. As she was crying, she came up with a good idea to write about, sat down at her typewriter, and started writing, having resolved to keep on writing even if she never got another book published. Later, Madeleine L’Engle became the best-selling author of A Wrinkle in Time.

• When Ursula K. Kroeber was eleven years old, she wrote a science fiction story and mailed it to Amazing Stories. Unfortunately, the editors of the magazine rejected her story and mailed it back to her. Young Ursula’s brother worried that she would be upset by the rejection; instead, she was thrilled to receive a real rejection letter, just like adult writers received. As an adult, she married Charles Le Guin, and as Ursula K. Le Guin, she wrote such books as The Lathe of Heaven and A Wizard of Earthsea.


• In 2007, author Christopher Hitchens had some interesting experiences as he toured to publicize his best-selling book God Is Not Great. In New York, he saw this sign put up by the Second Presbyterian Church: “Christopher Hitchens doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” In Raleigh, North Carolina, he appeared before a huge crowd at a Unitarian church, whose rector whispered to him, “I ought not to say this, but the church has never been this full before.” And in Austin, Texas, an audience member asked him if he knew the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, another anti-Christian author. Mr. Hitchens replied that he did, although he did not always agree with Nietzsche. The audience then asked if Mr. Hitchens was aware that Nietzsche was suffering from terminal syphilis while writing his anti-Christian works. Mr. Hitchens replied that he had heard that, but that he didn’t know whether it was true. Finally, the audience member asked if the same explanation accounted for Mr. Hitchens’ own anti-Christian works. Mr. Hitchens immediately thought, “Should have seen that coming.”

• G.K. Chesterton was a Catholic, and his Father Brown mystery stories were filled with his ideas on religion. In one story, a doctor says, “I’m afraid I’m a practical man, and I don’t bother much about religion and philosophy.” Father Brown replies, “You’ll never be a practical man ’til you do.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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